What are woven wraps?
Woven wraps are made from cloth that has been woven especially for the purpose of carrying children. They can be tied in a multitude of ways to create different front,hip and back carries that are suitable for any age and size of child from newborn to toddler; the ultimate in flexibility.
They are commonly made in 6 different lengths, each of which has a different benefit dependent on your individual needs. Short wraps can fold up small and are easily portable when not in use- great for quick carries when your child might want to be ‘up and down’ frequently. They can be worn as scarves or buggy blankets! Longer wraps provide multiple layers of support which can be useful when your newborn is pretty much constantly carried, or for extra support when carrying older children.
What are the pros and cons of woven wraps?
There is an initial learning curve when it comes to learning the tricks of using a wrap, but wraps are unrivalled when it comes to flexibility, support and longevity. A woven wrap excels in its ability to mould precisely to you and your child, you are able to tailor the support it gives to your exact needs at that moment. They don’t have to be adjusted to fit the wearer so both parents can use the same carrier. Once you have mastered the basic ‘moves’ that form the basis of most carries then adding new ones to your repertoire becomes an enjoyable pursuit. There are many online and face to face resources available to help you troubleshoot and tweak your technique.
Why are there so many different sizes/lengths?
The sizes are more linked with the type of carrying that you need them for rather than the physical size of the wearer and child, however one person may require a size 6 to perform a certain carry, whereas another may need a size larger or smaller to achieve the same thing. To allow for this variance, many carrying tutorials refer to ‘base’ sizing. Your personal base length is determined by the size of wrap you require to complete a Front Wrap Cross Carry. The most common base wrap is a size 6. Carries will be described as requiring a wrap that is base+1, or base-2 etc as a rough idea of how much length you will need to perform it, so that you can personalise the instructions. As your technique improves you may find that you need less length than before to perform each carry.
How do I ensure safety and comfort for us both?
Carries are limited to those where the child’s torso is facing in towards the carer as those best support the natural physiology. Even facing inwards, your child has a wide range of vision and upper body movement, allowing them to participate fully when they wish to, but snuggle into you to reduce stimulation or sleep.
we have tutorials online, but carries can also be taught face to face which many people find helpful. Many local sling libraries will offer private consultations for a small fee that can massively improve your carrying technique, assuring safety and ultimately improving the comfort of a carry.
Safe carrying is paramount There are some simple rules to follow to keep your baby safe in the sling. Provided that your baby is properly positioned then they can safely remain in a wrap for as long as you are both comfortable
How do I choose from all the wraps on the market?
Wraps are generally woven using either a form of twill or jacquard weave. Plain coloured or striped wraps are usually twill, whereas wraps that have a picture or pattern woven into the cloth tend to be jacquard. Some wraps have small labels sewn in to help you locate the middle of your wrap when putting it on.
Each company has their own ‘secret recipe’ of weave structure & yarn and this gives each brand their own distinctive properties that become apparent in use. A lot of time and effort goes into getting the correct amount of diagonal stretch, texture and movement in the cloth and this is one of the things that sets a woven wrap apart from off the shelf cloth in a fabric store. Whilst every wrap is essentially a long parallelogram of hemmed cloth, there are a diverse range of characteristics that can be noted in differing brands that affect how they feel to wrap and carry with. Because of this the choice stretches way beyond colour, pattern, and price range. The qualities that you may prefer in a wrap will be a personal thing (some people get better results from a grippy, dense wrap, others might prefer a thin wrap with a lot of ‘bounce’ to the cloth) but ultimately it is likely to be that the characteristics you prefer are the ones that best enable you to wrap well, and this is the crucial element when it comes to woven wraps.
Whilst the cloth itself may be a contributing factor, how comfortable and enjoyable you find using a woven wrap will ultimately come down to how well you have wrapped with it.
Wraps vary in cost quite dramatically, and their price can be influenced by several factors. Some wraps may be woven out of more expensive fibres, some may come at a premium because they are made in limited quantities, or production costs may come into play (wraps woven and hemmed in the UK cost considerably more to produce). Ultimately though, price doesn’t reflect how well a wrap will perform for you and a ‘budget’ wrap that you can get snug and evenly tensioned may provide more comfortable carries than something triple the price. If you enjoy using it and it complements your wrapping style, sliding and passing and gripping as you need it to, then that is the perfect wrap for you. Similarly you may find yourself wearing your wrap more than you would any item of clothing and so choosing something that you like the look of is important too.
Some wraps require ‘breaking in’ and can be stiff and unwieldy at first. Initially this can make it hard to work out any slack that would lead to uncomfortable sagging or pressure points. Breaking a wrap in is fairly simple and simply using it, or any other action that rubs the fabric against itself will start to soften it up. The action of breaking in is quite literally a breaking down and wearing away of the fibre structure. All wraps should come with instructions for washing. The majority will be machine washable although some fibres might require specialist care so it is worth taking note of this beforehand, as you will probably have to wash your wrap from time to time. As with a pair of jeans you may find your wrap a little stiff straight out of the wash, but it will loosen up again with the first wear.
See ” What Makes a Firespiral Wrap” to read about what makes Firespiral wrap special.
Wraps are tougher than we give them credit for- weaving turns thin, easily snapped individual threads into a structure that is incredibly strong and durable. Sometimes single threads can get snagged and pull out of place or even snap, but these are only cosmetic issues and easily rectified with a little wrap maintenance. It would take colossal damage to make a wrap unsafe for use and the issues that worry people most frequently tend to only be an issue in terms of affecting resale price.
Whilst there is a vibrant and exciting market for trading second hand wraps, these pieces of cloth are ultimately designed for a higher and more magical purpose- holding our little ones snug and safe against us. Wraps deserve to be loved and used, to become woven into our memories of warm babies, muddy walks and rainy day dens!